ConsumerismHealth & DiseaseMedicinal Plants

Natural Hair Care and Small Steps Towards Sustainability

In this article I would like to share with you the transition Yotam and I went through from conventional hair care to a completely zero waste, home made, natural hair care regime.

I think this process is also a mirror to many other parallel transitions we have been doing in our lives on our way to sustainability, and that our society still needs to go through.

Any step you take on this path is blessed, but knowing that there is more that you can do can help in taking yourself further.

Here are the steps we’ve gone through:

  1. Green wash — In the shop, choosing shampoo and conditioner that looks, smells and claims to be natural.
  2. Reading small print — Reading all the ingredients, and learning to avoid chemicals, parabens, SLS and other things where we don’t understand what they mean.
  3. Choosing organic hair care — In consideration of step 2 above, since not all of the organic shampoos are chemical free.
  4. Doubting necessities and questioning if I really need this? — At this stage we gave up on conditioners. It is important to know that it takes some time for the hair to balance itself, since it was dependent on moisture from an outside source. But in general, this is a very easy transition. Later we’ve learned that conditioning may increase hair loss.
  5. Missing the softness — A good natural way to soften your hair or any other fibre for that matter, is to use vinegar. Occasionally we would make an after shower spraying mixture for this soft affect. This is the recipe to be used in a sprayer: 1 third vinegar (our homemade vinegar or a good quality apple cider vinegar) mixed with 2 thirds water, and 4-8 drops of essential oil (we usually choose lavender, patchouli or geranium rose).
  6. Doubting necessities and some more questioning — The doubts started again; how can it be that we still have to buy these shampoos? In plastic bottles, from a factory, even if they are organic, natural and smell like camellias…. What did people do before shampoo was invented, did they all just have dreadlocks?
  7. Goodbye consumerism — After doing some research we found our way: herbal teas! This is how it works. We choose our favorite herbs / other plants and make an infusion, then we pour it into a big bowl and add more water. The temperature should be nice and warm, but not so hot that you can’t stick your head in. After the shower we wash our hair in the bowl. Make sure to work it well with your hands and give your scalp a nice massage. That’s it. Warmth melts down the dirt, the hands do the cleaning, and the plants add a nice smell and medicinal properties. Our favorite herbs are sage, lavender, nettles, rosemary, myrtle (which is known to promote hair growth), fenugreek (though the smell is not popular) and chamomile. Sometimes we use leftovers from infusions we drunk earlier that day (no sugar added).
  8. Design for Catastrophes — Hair tangles. First of all remember to brush, try to do it often, as this makes a big difference. If you missed a few brushes and you are in a situation where there are too many tangles, it’s time to oil up. We use olive oil as our hair mask (which we usually leave on for the night). We do this on emergencies or just for fun every once in a while. This process will soften the hair and make it shine. But it takes more than one shower to get all the oil off, so plan to look wet for a couple of days. We use olive oil since it is local, but coconut oil would be great for your hair as well. In Tibet they use yak butter regularly on their hair, which might be worth a try if you can find a yak.
  9. Play with it — Once you understand the basic idea, you can find your own concoctions by adding orange peelings, wild herbs from your garden or a dash of vinegar. These are some of the good ideas we’ve heard of.

Important note in conclusion — The way your hair looks is also dependent on your nutritional intake, and reflects your general state of well being. It is affected by the qualities of the air around you and the water you use. So pay attention! There might be other changes you need to take in your life beyond choosing your shampoo. Industrial shampoos often camouflage the message your body is sending you, so moving to natural hair care also helps you reconnect with your body.


  1. This is something that I, as someone who has not sought the services of hair dressers/barbers for eight years now, have been pondering for quite some time. So, thank you very much for your research and the information you have given. This is just the sort of stuff we need to be doing voluntarily now, while we can, and before it becomes a necessity. Well done.

    Up to this point I have reluctantly continued to buy (only organic) hair products but now that I have this knowledge and many of the necessary ingredients already growing in my garden (and what other things I need to start growing) I intend to further reduce my reliance on consumer products by following your lead.

    Anyone know a down-to-basics, self-sourced, non-consumerist method for making candles, body-wash, dish-washing or other cleaning products?

  2. Great tips! Another good idea is using apple cider vinegar- alone or infused with herbs such as rosemary and thyme (hey, even parsley and sage if you like!) as a rinse. True, while wet it DOES smell a bit salad-y.
    Also, my daughters have think, kinky hair, and shea butter is a wonderful conditioner for them. Not local, but we are very careful who we buy it from.

  3. I have actually transitioned to a minimal personal care products regime, based around not using any commercial products at all, just a bit of lemon juice every now and again. In the beginning my scalp and skin produced more oils but eventually went back to normal after about 1 month. Hot water seems to be about all I require, none of my work colleagues have complained of increased smell :) and I wear no deodorant either. About the only thing I use soap on is my hands.

    In my opinion if your day to day activities are not particularly dirty you do not require much.

  4. Cheers Niva, thank you for sharing this.
    I can confirm your writing from my own experience.
    I stopped using shampoo and conditioner 15 months ago. Soap on my body as well. And I haven’t used soap on my face for well more than ten years.
    It took several days for the skin to balance itself, and now it is softer than a lady’s. It took a while (two months or more) for the hair to restore its natural balance.
    I haven’t used any substances other than plain warm water, twice a week. My hair has sort of a doggy-hair quality – it’s thicker and a bit greasy to the touch, but not dirty at all. And it does reflect the state of my body and my nutrition regime. It is a very important point that intensive personal hygiene masks the messages our body sends through its outer layer.
    There are only two minor setbacks – one can tell which pillow case I sleep on, and it’s a bit of a greasy experience for my hair dresser. But, I’m very happy I haven’t bought nor used any chemicals on my body for a long time, plus I use much less water in the shower. And it brings a feeling of freedom from the system – small but significant.

  5. Thank you every one for you comments!

    I agree that warm water is generally enough. With Lily , our daughter, who never had soap or shampoo on her it is all we use.
    her hair is beautiful, shiny and not greasy at all :)

    we like to use the herbs since they have their own medicinal properties and a nice smell.

    i think the matter of greasiness also depends on the type of hair you have, mine is dry by it’s nature while Yotam’s is oily and therefor his stays a bit to greasy if he doesn’t wash it frequently enough.

  6. Thank you for the article. I wnet through a similar process and then stopped washing my hair at all a couple of years ago and it’s generally healthier looking than it’s ever been. It gets a little greasy from time to time, perhpas for a day, then rebalances. Where I live the climate tends to be damp and mild, no extremes. I have found, when I’ve been staying with my daughter in New York whne it’s very hot and humid I’ve felt the need to wash my hair with shampoo, but usually regret it because it takes so long to rebalance.
    I was born not long after the war and I remember many things just starting to be advertised – deodorants, hair conditioners, ‘so mild you can use every day’ shampoos, cling film, the idea you should bath or shower every day (rather than a good wash); all things people managed quite happily lived without until advertising created a ‘need’. It’s always good to question.

  7. Great tips for hair care. Thank you for all the suggestion you gave about buying our products for hair care. Your tips are extremely useful and taking so much care for hairs even about brushing I like your points. Thank you so much for sharing this. Right from today I will start following these tips and will recommend to others.

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